Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Translocated Hutton’s Shearwaters get studied behind a predator-proof fence in New Zealand

The Endangered Hutton’s Shearwater Puffinus huttoni, endemic to the vicinity of Kaikoura, South Island, New Zealand, is fortunate to have a champion in the form of the Hutton’s Shearwater Charitable Trust to help with its conservation (click here).

The species breeds in the Seaward Kaikoura Range at elevations from 1200-1800 m in two remaining colonies.  These colonies are under threat from feral pigs Sus scrofa and Stoats Mustela erminea and from natural hazards such as avalanches and earthquakes.  The New Zealand Department of Conservation and the Trust have undertaken a translocation project whereby chicks were moved from the Kowhai mountain colony to the Kaikoura Peninsula within a predator-proof fence where they were hand-fed until fledging in an attempt to establish a third breeding colony.


Hutton's Shearwater fledgling, photograph by the Hutton's Shearwater Charitable Trust

Latest news on the translocation exercise is that the peninsula colony contains 11 breeding pairs with three chicks and eight eggs this season.  In addition to these, one egg was recently lost and two eggs are not being incubated regularly, which could be attributed to young inexperienced birds returning as first-time breeders.

The Trust has made a funding application to purchase six trail cameras to record shearwater activity at night, as well as 10 geolocators that can be deployed on departing chicks and retrieved up to five years later (as chicks could have very different migration patterns to adults).

An annotated bibliography for Hutton’s Shearwater is available on the Trust’s website (click here).

The activities of the Hutton's Shearwater Charitable Trust demonstrate how a local community can come together to successfully address a local conservation issue.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 23 December 2015